Phanogomphus quadricolor - (Walsh, 1863)
Rapids Clubtail
Synonym(s): Gomphus quadricolor Walsh, 1863
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Gomphus quadricolor Walsh, 1863 (TSN 101691)
French Common Names: gomphe des rapides
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.118053
Element Code: IIODO08380
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Dragonflies and Damselflies
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Odonata Gomphidae Phanogomphus
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Paulson, D.R. and S.W. Dunkle. 1999. A Checklist of North American Odonata. Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound Occasional Paper, 56: 86 pp. Available:
Concept Reference Code: A99PAU01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Gomphus quadricolor
Taxonomic Comments: Molecular phylogenetic analysis and reclassification of Gomphidae resulted in the recognition of additional genera based on nuclear, mitochondrial, and ribosomal sequences. In this new scheme, Gomphus in the strict sense now does not occur in North America, but is restricted to Eurasia (Ware et al. 2016).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 29Aug2005
Global Status Last Changed: 30Oct1998
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Rare, but with a moderately large range. May be more elusive than rare however. At risk in Canada (only occurs in Ontario).
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (30Oct1998)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (28Jul2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S1), Arkansas (SNR), Connecticut (S1S2), Georgia (S1), Illinois (SX), Indiana (S2), Iowa (S1), Kentucky (S2S3), Maine (S1), Maryland (S2), Massachusetts (S2), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (SNR), New Hampshire (S1S2), New Jersey (S3), New York (S3), North Carolina (S1?), Ohio (S3), Pennsylvania (S2S3), Tennessee (S3S4), Vermont (S2), Virginia (S3), West Virginia (S3), Wisconsin (S5)
Canada Ontario (S1)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (23Feb2010)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (01Nov2018)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: This dragonfly has a fragmented distribution with a very small area of occupancy. Considerable search effort indicates that it is restricted to small portions of five rivers in southern Ontario. It is believed to be extirpated from one other river. Habitat decline due to a variety of factors remains a serious threat to remaining subpopulations.

Status history: Designated Endangered in April 2008. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2018.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Northeastern North America: A substantial total known range from southwestern Maine, reaching its western limit in eastern Minnesota, south to Alabama. (Walker 1958, Needham and Westfall 1955). Area approximately 1,160 x 1,650 kilometers = 1,914,000 square kilometers (approximately 700 x 1,000 miles = 700,000 square miles). May be at risk in Ontario as extirpated from one of the four known sites.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Based on inventory data from Maine, New York, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, there could be as many as 153 occurrences in these states. This number could prove to be an underestimate as more inventories are done in remaining parts of range. Only 3 of 4 Ontario sites still have populations.

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Average population of certainly more than 100 specimens in all lifestages at each EO.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Current threats appear minor over much of the species' northern range, but habitat threat is probably significant to the south. Potential threats of habitat degradation are the impoundment of running waters by human activities such as poorly drained roads, damming, and also natural activities such as beaver damming (often a transient effect), channelization leading to scour of microhabitats, toxic or organic pollution, introduction of exotic species.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: No abundance changes not attributable to flight season have been noted. The species remains secure in areas that are not easily accessible (Vogt pers. comm. 1994).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Given the high vagility of the species (estimated 3 kilometers (2 miles) per day along the waterway) and the prevalence of suitable habitat over much of its range, the species' overall population is not considered fragile. Localized extirpations would likely be re-inhabited very shortly (less than 2 years) after habitat recovery, with catchment extirpations requiring somewhat more time (less than 5 years).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Surveys are needed across the range, but specifically in Illinois, Tennessee and Alabama.

Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Northeastern North America: A substantial total known range from southwestern Maine, reaching its western limit in eastern Minnesota, south to Alabama. (Walker 1958, Needham and Westfall 1955). Area approximately 1,160 x 1,650 kilometers = 1,914,000 square kilometers (approximately 700 x 1,000 miles = 700,000 square miles). May be at risk in Ontario as extirpated from one of the four known sites.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, GA, IA, ILextirpated, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005), New London (09011), Windham (09015)
IN Lagrange (18087)
MA Berkshire (25003), Hampden (25013)
MD Baltimore County (24005), Frederick (24021), Harford (24025), Howard (24027), Montgomery (24031), Washington (24043)
NC Buncombe (37021), Chatham (37037), Madison (37115), Moore (37125)
NH Cheshire (33005), Hillsborough (33011), Merrimack (33013)
NJ Hunterdon (34019), Morris (34027), Sussex (34037), Warren (34041)
NY Broome (36007), Cattaraugus (36009), Essex (36031), Herkimer (36043), Jefferson (36045), Orange (36071), Rensselaer (36083), Saratoga (36091), Schoharie (36095), St. Lawrence (36089), Sullivan (36105), Tompkins (36109)*, Ulster (36111), Warren (36113), Washington (36115)
OH Ashtabula (39007), Knox (39083), Lake (39085), Licking (39089), Miami (39109), Montgomery (39113), Portage (39133), Shelby (39149), Washington (39167)
PA Clarion (42031), Crawford (42039), Elk (42047), Forest (42053), Indiana (42063), Jefferson (42065), Perry (42099), Pike (42103), Susquehanna (42115), Warren (42123), Wayne (42127)
VT Bennington (50003), Franklin (50011), Orange (50017), Rutland (50021), Windham (50025), Windsor (50027)
WV Barbour (54001), Braxton (54007)*, Grant (54023)*, Greenbrier (54025), Hampshire (54027)*, Hardy (54031)*, Mineral (54057)*, Pendleton (54071)*, Pleasants (54073)*, Pocahontas (54075), Randolph (54083)*, Wood (54107)*, Wyoming (54109)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Contoocook (01070003)+, Merrimack (01070006)+, Upper Connecticut-Mascoma (01080104)+, Black-Ottauquechee (01080106)+, West (01080107)+, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Westfield (01080206)+, Farmington (01080207)+, Shetucket (01100002)+, Housatonic (01100005)+
02 Upper Hudson (02020001)+, Hudson-Hoosic (02020003)+, Schoharie (02020005)+, Rondout (02020007)+, Raritan (02030105)+, Upper Delaware (02040101)+, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Upper Susquehanna (02050101)+, Chenango (02050102)+*, Owego-Wappasening (02050103)+*, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+, Gunpowder-Patapsco (02060003)+, South Branch Potomac (02070001)+*, North Branch Potomac (02070002)+*, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+, Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008)+
03 Deep (03030003)+
04 St. Joseph (04050001)+, Cuyahoga (04110002)+, Grand (04110004)+, Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101)+, Seneca (04140201)+*, Black (04150101)+, Oswegatchie (04150302)+, Indian (04150303)+, Grass (04150304)+, Mettawee River (04150401)+, Missiquoi River (04150407)+
05 Upper Allegheny (05010001)+, Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, French (05010004)+, Clarion (05010005)+, Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+, Tygart Valley (05020001)+, Cheat (05020004)+*, Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+, Little Kanawha (05030203)+*, Walhonding (05040003)+, Licking (05040006)+, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Upper Guyandotte (05070101)+*, Upper Great Miami (05080001)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A moderate sized dragonfly.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, High gradient, Moderate gradient, Riffle, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Habitat Comments: Lotic. Overall habitat is clear streams and brooks with strong current over clean gravel, cobbles or bedrock, on comparatively unproductive soils ("trout stream").

Landform required to promote a strong current in small running waters generally has moderate to considerable relief, from hills to mountains. The microhabitat (sub-EO) is stretches of rapids.

Eggs are laid outside plant tissues and presumably the establishment of male territorial mating arenas there, plus development of larvae in interstices of the benthos and pools. Exuviae of the species were taken on the Saco River in southwest Maine, where it is wide, with sandy benthos and a moderately strong current (Loyd 1997).

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Biological Research Needs: Tolerance to pollution and dissolved oxygen levels needs to be documented.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: River-breeding Dragonfly Odonates

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on some evidence of historical or current presence of single or multiple specimens ideally with evidence of on-site breeding (teneral adults, mating pairs, territorial males, ovipositing females, larvae, or exuviae) at a given location with potential breeding habitat. Although oviposition may not necessarily yield progeny that survive to adulthood (Fincke, 1992) and movements resembling oviposition may not necessarily result in egg deposition (Okazawa and Ubukata, 1978; Martens, 1992; 1994), presence of on-site oviposition is here accepted as an indicator of a minimum element occurrence because the time and effort involved in determining success of emergence is beyond the scope of the general survey. As adults of some species might disperse moderate distances (see below), only sites with available larval habitat can be considered appropriate for a minimum occurrence. Single, non-breeding adults captured away from potential suitable breeding habitat should not be treated as element occurrences. Evidence is derived from reliable published observation or collection data; unpublished, though documented (i.e. government or agency reports, web sites, etc.) observation or collection data; or museum specimen information. A photograph may be accepted as documentation of an element occurrence for adults only (nymphs and subimagos are too difficult to identify in this manner) provided that the photograph shows diagnostic features that clearly delineate the species from other species with similar features. Sight records, though valuable, should not be accepted as the basis for new element occurrences. Instead, such records should be utilized to further study an area to verify the element occurrence in that area.
Separation Barriers: Within catchments there are likely no significant barriers to movement of sexually mature adults between microhabitats, with even extensive sections of inappropriate waterway or major obstructions to flow being readily traversed by adults within the flight season. Dams large enough to cause extensive pooling may serve as separation barriers.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: None
Separation Justification: Odonate dispersal capability has been poorly documented with long-range movements inferred from observations in transit and analogy with other insects (Conrad et al., 1999; Corbet, 1999). Adults are known to wander, some over great distances (not so for damselflies). Mass migration over great distances is not herein considered when drafting separation distances as such behavior is limited to few species (e.g. Anax junius, Libellula quadrimaculata and other Libellula spp., Sympetrum spp.), occurs unpredictably and infrequently (10 year cycles for L. quadrimaculata), are unidirectional or intergenerational (Freeland et al., 2003), or occurs under unusual circumstances such as irritation by trematode parasites (Dumont and Hinnekint, 1973) or during major weather events (Moskowitz et al., 2001; Russell et al., 1998).

Corbet (1999) estimated the average distance traveled for a commuting flight (between reproductive and roosting or foraging sites) to be less than 200 m but sometimes greater than one km. Distance traveled is generally greatest for river-breeding odonates, but can vary considerably between taxa (Corbet, 1999). Both D. Paulson and S. Valley (personal communication, 1998) suggest a population should be defined by the river drainage in which it is found, but drainages or catchments vary by orders of magnitude in size and isolation so it is not obvious how to effect this recommendation.

The combination of breeding dispersal in the range of a few km with the potential for periodic long distance dispersal providing landscapes are not fragmented has led to the somewhat arbitrary assignment of separation distances at 10 km (unsuitable and suitable).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: The few studies determining area of adult foraging habitat surrounding breeding sites have indicated a range of 30 meters to 300 meters [see Briggs (1993) for Enallagma laterale; Corbet (1999) for Nesciothemis nigeriensis and Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis; Beukeman (2002) for Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis; and Samways and Steytler (1996) for Chorolestes tessalatus]. As a result, an element occurrence should include the breeding site and surrounding pond or upland habitat extending 500 m in a radius from the breeding site.
Date: 02Jun2004
Author: Cordeiro, J.
Notes: River breeding dragonflies:
ANISOPTERA: Aeshnidae: Aeshna dugesi, A. persephone, A. walkeri, Anax strenuus, A. walsinghami, Basiaeschna, Boyeria, Oplonaeschna; Cordulegastridae: Cordulegaster diadema, C. dorsalis, C. maculata; Corduliidae: Helocordulia, Somatochlora elongata, S. ensigera, S. filosa, S. forcipata, S. georgiana, S. linearis, S. margarita, S. minor, S. ozarkensis, S. tenebrosa, S. walshii; Gomphidae: Dromogomphus, Erpetogomphus, Gomphus (Gomphurus): all species, Gomphus (Gomphus): all species, Gomphus (Hylogomphus): all species, Gomphus (Stenogomphus): all species, Gomphus (Phanogomphus) borealis, G. descriptus, G. hodgesi, G. lividus, G. minutus, G. quadricolor, Hagenius, Lanthus, Neurocordulia, Octogomphus, Ophiogomphus, Phyllogomphoides albrighti, Progomphus borealis, P. obscurus, Remartina, Stylogomphus, Stylurus; Libellulidae: Brechmorhoga, Dythemis, Macrothemis, Nesogonia, Paltothemis, Pseudoleon; Macromiidae: Macromia

Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Aug2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2005); Whittaker [1992 edition]; Brunelle, P. M. [1998 ed]
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 04Dec1998

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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